SERVING ON THE RITUAL TEAM - A PATHWAY TO ONE'S LIFE PURPOSE AND SENSE OF BELONGING IN THE WORLD
Serving on the Ritual Team is a sacred path. To step on this path for the benefit of your people requires enormous dedication.
There is great physicality and the need for family and community support. If one's application is accepted, there is a visitor year to see if this is a good fit.
As a Ritual Team member, one commits to spending 10 days in Georgia each spring which includes a week of preparations preceding the Ritual. In the Fall, we gather for approximately 5 days at the end of September which includes a Harvest Festival where we lay our offerings of gratitude at Tsantawu for the beneficial rains during the growing season.
In January we attend a Winter Camp to ready ourselves emotionally and spiritually for the work.
Each team member is expected to train for and maintain good physical conditioning throughout the year in addition to tending to one's personal growth and challenges.
It feels important to be up front with how deeply challenging this path is. At the same time, each of us who serve in this way have experienced life-changing blessings and feel profoundly honored to be able to serve our beautiful Mother Earth, the plants and animals, and our human sisters and brothers in such a meaningful way.
Here are a few examples of what Ritual Team Members experience:
"Where do I start? In the early 80's, while living in Lesotho, I admired the peoples' deep connection with their land and with each other: their deep sense of community. I read about various indigenous peoples - the Zulu, Xhosa, San and Pygmy. It stirred up a deep longing in me. I felt jealous that I didn't have the deep connection to land, community and spirit that they had. In fact, I felt cheated or ripped off that my own culture hadn't passed on these ways of connection to me.
So, for decades, I've longed for and searched for a deeper connection with this beautiful living world. In 2017 I joined the Tsantawu ritual team. Twice a year, I get to gather together with others to build a village for our ceremonies, sing a love song to this great being, and help my people to receive the life-giving rains. I feel grateful to have this opportunity to serve. It nourishes my heart and soul."
"When I first came to the Mountain I was young and very naive. I was filled with fear, living a small life. I would say I was living a comfortable life, but that wasn’t exactly true. It’s maybe more accurate to say I was living a physically comfortable life in the midst of immense emotional, spiritual and mental discomfort. A discomfort I had learned to live with and be comfortable with.
My heart was called to this work without me even understanding what the work was exactly. I didn’t have any idea what I was getting into. As each Spring rolled around and the time neared for us to regroup to do our ceremony, I would be nervous for weeks in anticipation and dread. It challenged me on every level of my being, and when it was complete I was always amazed I made it through to the other side. I survived, somehow, despite my mind telling me all the ways I wouldn’t. I kept coming back because I think on some level I recognized I was becoming a better person. A more heart centered, compassionate, courageous, authentic person.
In thinking back at who I was when I first started walking as a ritual performer, and thinking about myself now I seem almost unrecognizable. Each year brought new challenges to face my fears, new opportunities for all the burdens and hurts that I long carried deep in my soul to be transformed into newfound strength and courage far beyond what I felt I was capable of. My heart was opened, allowing me to connect to the sacred in a deep and profound way where I can feel my relationship with the natural world. It speaks to me and I’m able not just to hear, but to listen. I speak to the natural world and it responds. I am participating with the world in a way that feels innately part of the human experience. I experience how the world works and flows, and my soul remembers that I am a part of this world. I’m able to surrender to something bigger than myself, to trust the mysterious unknown and experience what it’s like when the impossible becomes possible. It has helped me feel that I belong here in this world, and that I carry with me a unique set of gifts that I now have the courage to bring forth for the benefit of my people. Instead of living in despair over the chaotic, tumultuous state of our world, I now feel I have meaning and purpose in my life and a way to bring help and healing to my people.
The life I’ve been blessed with as a result of my continuing to walk this path year after year is a life so much richer than what I could have dreamt for myself. It’s not an easy path, but I’ve learned that anything really worth doing in this life will have some degree of challenge built in."
"My first impulse to come to the mountain 15 years ago involved healing after a cancer diagnosis. What I’ve experienced through the years is how the mountain connects me in profound ways to nature and a sense of joy, feeding and healing my spirit. Through this community, I’ve found meaningful relationships, and a continual deepening of purpose and potential in my life."
- Mary Beth
If you'd like to explore joining the Ritual Team, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.